In the brutal sell-off on Dalal Street on Friday, triggered by fears of a new COVID-19 variant, Gautam Adani saw over $12 billion of his wealth wiped out in hours as his group companies came under tremendous selling pressure largely from panicked retail investors and momentum-savvy trading algorithms.
Shares of Adani Enterprises, Adani Power, Adani Transmission, Adani Green Energy, Adani Total Gas, and Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone fell 1-6 per cent on Friday. The sell-off meant that Gautam Adani’s wealth at the end of Friday’s trading session stood at $78.1 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index.
Meanwhile, Mukesh Ambani – owner of India’s largest conglomerate Reliance Industries – saw only a $3.7 billion cut in his wealth to $91.1 billion.
On Thursday, Gautam Adani was within touching distance from taking over Mukesh Ambani as Asia’s richest man. Adani’s wealth stood at a lifetime high of $89.1 billion, just half a billion dollars shy of Mukesh Ambani’s $89.6 billion in net worth.
In the game that less than 0.5 per cent of the human civilization plays, Gautam Adani has had a trailblazing year. The former commodity trader-turned-infrastructure giant has seen his wealth soar $44.3 billion in 2021 so far, aided by some clever deal-making in India’s infrastructure sector and early entry into growth areas like green energy.
Adani’s empire that was troubled not so long ago by his penchant to pledge shares of his mainstay Adani Enterprises for investment in other enterprises like city gas distribution, ports and electricity, has seen a turn of fortune over the past two years.
Adani’s foray into renewable energy, airports and city gas distribution has won investors over as all those businesses reduced the group’s dependence on cyclical businesses like commodities and ports.
Today, Adani Group is the most dominant player in India’s limping yet promising infrastructure story just as the Narendra Modi government has laid out plans to invest over Rs 100 lakh crore in infrastructure building over the next five years.
While Friday’s sell-off does not cast a shadow over Adani’s long-term prospects, it will make it that much more difficult for him to overtake another stalwart of India Inc.